Collar found us, and we are glad they did. Straightaway, it was their designs that caught our attention, as they are unique and offer a different take on swimwear and fashion design. And, the brand doesn’t stop there with this out-of-the-box approach. They also work to ensure they showcase their pieces in a fresh way and not via traditional channels, such as with a typical fashion show or with a typical fashion presentation. Instead, everything the brand does is with the Collar twist.
The Latvia-based brand was founded by Monta Apsāne, in 2015. Monta launched the brand with swimwear and with the brand’s latest collection, “Athirst”, added lingerie and accessories to the product offering.
In addition to Monta, we also got to speak with Collar’s managing director, Ieva Laube, to learn more about the brand.
MalenDyer: You recently came back from Paris for The Future of Fashion Program. What was your reaction when you found out you were one of 30 designers selected to attend?
Monta Apsane & Ieva Laube: We were pleasantly surprised to be selected for The Future of Fashion Program because until that point, when we applied for the contest, we weren’t fully aware of how huge of an opportunity it was!
MA & IL: It has been a crazy, full–time business development experience for such an up-and-coming brand like ours. Of course, it was also an honor to be named as The Future of Fashion by Not Just A Label We really felt the attention that this name or status brought with it, and we really appreciate it! All of this experience brought us together with the right people and contacts. It’s not about how many contacts you gain, but how deep and meaningful of relations you build with these people.
MA & IL: This kind of a program and tradeshow really is the first real encounter with the industry and the way it operates. Until this moment, we had played by our own rules and on our own field, but after the tradeshow, we really felt the rhythm of the big fashion flow.
“It’s not about how many contacts you gain, but how deep and meaningful of relations you build with these people.”
MD: Now, you not only offer swimwear, but you also offer lingerie. Share with us more about working with lingerie and swim.
MA & IL: We started creating lingerie because our clients really wanted a product that wouldn’t be seasonal but would have the same aesthetic details and the comfortable cuts of our swimwear. The idea of launching lingerie was more of a reaction to a demand from our customers. A demand for the same understanding of a woman’s personality, hidden sensuality and uniqueness and in the approach to design and functionality.
MA & IL: We are offering intimates and bodysuits in light, sporty and pleasant-to-the-skin designs that are crafted from mesh, which is a synthetic material similar to the one we use in swimwear. In the upcoming collections, we are planning to use more natural fabrics that will come with new challenges and a new understanding of shaping the lingerie pieces.
MD: You also offer accessories. Why do you feel it was important to also offer accessories with lingerie and swimwear?
MA & IL: The accessories came as a side project/initiative for presenting the current collection at our own design and photography installation that we presented this spring in Riga, Latvia, and Berlin at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival. In the end, we realized that it was a wonderful addition to the wearable swimwear and lingerie models – a more exclusive design addition to the image of personality we wanted to convey.
MA & IL: We will definitely hold onto the approach that once in awhile, we will come up with a more exclusive accessory line that will run jointly with a particular collection. Those will not always be jewelry pieces but design elements of various kinds.
MD: Studying your previous collections, we can’t escape the “personality” of the brand. Tell us more about the Collar woman.
MA & IL: Yes, it’s true we strive not to dress a particular body type, but the personality. There is no age limit for our creations – it’s all about how the woman feels when wearing our designs. And this woman radiates a confident state of mind and values a mysterious and refined expression of beauty with a twist of edginess. She’s all about an intelligent sense of femininity and covert sensuality, an ascetic way of life and a healthy understanding of the human body. She values not only how the garment looks but how the aesthetic and the identity of the clothing makes her feel.
MD: Share with us more about how you approach showing your designs.
MA & IL: The idea [of a live exhibition] came into being after we realized that we didn’t want to present our label and ourselves following the standards of a fashion show because you cannot feel the essence of the creations, what the artist brings to you and how much effort it has taken in a “fast run show-off” of just 10 minutes. So, we wanted to slow it down and aim for an unaccustomed presentation of fashion.
“We strive not to dress a particular body type, but the personality. There is no age limit for our creations.”
MA & IL: At our first live exhibition, we presented our “Grown” collection, where several choreographers were dressed in Collar swimsuits and buried in peat moss. With slow bodily movements, in a time period of two hours, they stood up and uncovered the garments. The collection and exhibition was all about the ambition to “sprout”, to strive upwards. Then, this year, in our installation of Athirst, we turned to a more conceptual way of presenting fashion – visually and ideologically reflecting the essence of our time and being and the continuous thirst for time of the modern human.
MD: How does photographer Julia Prohorenkova add to Collar’s visual identity?
MA & IL: From the time we started collaborating, which was with the Grown collection, it was love from the first sight [the duo shared with a smile]. We instantly grew together and realized that we share a common understanding of aesthetics. It was a combination of our ascetic vision on fashion and her feminine and sensitive view on the female body that created this balanced identity of what our label and visual narrative has become. We have become a team, and we all fit so great together.
MD: Now, with your most recent collection, Athirst, Monta designed some of these prints herself. How does this add to the significance of this collection, from a brand perspective?
MA & IL: The prints have helped to convey the idea of the collection more intensely and have added a particular essence to the overall mood of the garments. Due to the fact that all of the prints are uniquely designed, they have made the swimwear and lingerie pieces ultimately unique and have become the basic characteristic of this collection. We have come to a conclusion that we want to continue to express the ideas through graphic storytelling as well.
MD: Share with us more about the inspiration behind this ss17, Athirst, collection.
MA & IL: In our daily life and in the world around us, we noticed the people are in a constant rush – for time, success and approval. So, the initial inspiration came from what we saw around us in the people, as well as working in an industry as tough as fashion. Monta was working in a fashion house in Antwerp last year, so experiencing this chasing of something bigger than yourself, the constant merry-go-round where the end is yet another beginning, made her express it in the upcoming collection. Therefore, the color palette from pale to juicy red – imitating the stages of getting sunburned – was the symbol of all of this chase and rush because the endpoint of all of this is just a burn out.
MA & IL: In general, we don’t come up with subjects we explore in every collection, they come from the daily life around us, as well as the inspiration. Since the beginning, the ideas for collections have come along on their own, and they have been translated into particular designs or moods. It has never been artificially pushed to form a collection, it has always come on its own. And it’s important to us to design timeless pieces that don’t obey the short life span of trends.
“It’s important to us to design timeless pieces that don’t obey the short life span of trends.”
MD: Were there any designs that didn’t make the cut for this ss17 season that you may revisit?
MA & IL: We decided to leave two designs out because the fabric was too specific and too fragile for daily use. High functionality is of great importance to us. We also left out the head scarves because they were a nice addition to fashion shows, shoots and the overall image, but didn’t quite go into the vision we wanted to express with the collection. It is vital to us to select garments that create a full, yet a self-sufficient collection. The process of designing models is about clearly envisioning the full picture so the garments would fit together harmoniously. Of course we design different variations and looks that can offer different directions for the collection but many great outfits fall out of the general idea of the line, so they are placed in an archive of ideas and are launched in a different setting or collection when they have matured.
MD: You shot your ss17 look book in Latvia. What drew you to this location for this collection?
MA & IL: The look book was shot on a white sand dune on a riverside in Latvia. We chose the location in Latvia because it was a clean and clear environment for such a vivid and detailed collection. We also thought we had to step out of the studio and go into a habitat that would be more characteristic to swimwear.
MD: Your model muse for ss17 was Vika Anisko – what drew you to her to portray your brand?
MA & IL: We first met Vika at our exhibition this spring, so once again, it was the right timing and meeting the right people. We believe that her deep personality, as well as her looks, her way of working and what she stands for goes together with what we believe in and what drives our brand. Vika herself is a photographer, a very sociable and beloved person, and that’s why we decided that it would be amazing to place her in the photo shoot because she would be keen on exploring the other side of the camera, could professionally fit herself in the role of a model and her personality could perfectly highlight the Collar garments. It was a mutual interest in an experiment to see what would come out of it.
MD: How do you feel the brand has grown with now having three collections under its belt?
MA & IL: We have grown a lot into the supply, offering around 20 models in different color variations that can lead up to 40 looks. We have started doing lingerie and accessories, as well as specially crafted jewelry. We are now working on forming international collaborations and working with retailers because the first collections were about shaping the forms and finding the identity of Collar and exploring the markets and our audience. At the moment, we’re on our way to finding and forming ties with the world so that our designs will be more accessible for people all over. We’re also keen on continuing to create authentic and self-curated happenings as a part of presenting the next collections.
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